The end of my 2012 was flooded. Well, my laundry room was because my 10-year-old washing machine broke, again. I posted my ordeal on my personal Facebook page, asking my community for advice: "Should I repair or buy?" Most said buy, but one said repair. That lone voice belonged to Matt Czosnek, a friend of mine from high school. He didn't just advise that the washing machine be repaired; he advised that I repair it. I would have fallen on the floor laughing, but I didn't want to get wet. However, Matt wasn't kidding. He is a believer that we all posses the ability to step up to the plate and DIY troubleshoot many of the repairs we encounter in our apartments and homes.
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Well, ultimately I did get the washing machine fixed, but I was not the one wielding the wrench. Nevertheless, I couldn't get Matt's words out of my head. So I reached out to him for some detailed guidance about what I, and all of you out there who are as repair-challenged as I am, can do to step up to the DIY plate and empower myself to be more self-reliant in my home.
According to Matt, the first thing you have to do is gather your instruments of destruction, or your tools for repair. For the beginner DIY repairperson, Matt suggests you put together your own toolkit.
15 must-have tools for a DIY repair toolkit:
1. Tongue and Grove Pliers, a 10-12 inch pair (Channel Lock)
2. Curved Claw Hammer
3. Hack Saw
4. Hand Saw
5. Screwdrivers: Phillips Head and Flat Head (2-3 each)
6. Locking Pliers (Vice Grips)
7. Non-Contact Volt Meter
8. Adjustable Wrench
9. Slip-Join Pliers
10. Tape Measure
11. Cordless Drill
13. Step Ladder
14. Tool Bag
15. Repair Log and Records Keeper
Building a library of reference materials is also very helpful. But your library should start with the owners manuals for your appliances and electronics. Many manuals have great troubleshooting advice included in the text. If you have lost your manual, no worries; many brands now offer their manuals in digital form on their websites. Best to keep all of your manuals together in a accordian folder or filling cabinet. The nice thing about the accordian folder is that you can carry it with you to wherever your DIY project is in the house and still keep your papers together. (I find that if I take files out of my filing cabinet, they don't always make it back. Just sayin'.) Once you have assembled all of your manuals, you can fill your library with some repair books such as these titles that Matt also suggests:
Dare To Repair by Julie Sussman
Home Maintenance for Dummies by James Carey & Morris Carey
Readers Digest New Fix It Yourself Manual by Readers Digest editors
Complete Idiot's Guide to Simple Home Repair by Judy Ostrow
Time-‐Life Home Repair and Improvement - Look for the ones from the late '80s early/mid '90s. This is a series and each book is all on one subject i.e. Plumbing, Electrical, or Appliances.
The Basic Handyman's Guide for Home and Apartment -This one is from the '70s but could prove very useful for anyone with an older home.
(The last two are older and a bit harder to find, but will be relevant for people with older homes. The Time-‐Life books are well illustrated and break repairs down into easily followed sections.)
While I am not ready to fix my washing machine, I do feel suited up to take on my loose bannisters at least. It's not about where you start it's only important that you start. Are you ready to take charge?
- By Lori Holton-Nash
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